Why ASCAP Beats BMI, Should Hate Apple, Love Pandora
It was important to initially establish the type of board BMI has sleepwalked through the last couple decades with. Who are these people? What have they done? Do their experiences bear relevance, in any way, to the issues songwriters, publishers and composers face in the digital age?
Anybody in their right mind, including the people at BMI, would have to answer a resounding "no" to the last question or variations of it. Do you really think people at BMI, including the people on the board, can look in the mirror or into the eyes of the musicians they represent and honestly argue that this is the absolute best crew available for the job?
Even if they're figureheads, why go with them? Pick people who actually hold sway symbolically.
In any event, from there, we go beyond the obvious. That group, as a whole, has no business fighting fights, making rules or serving as a symbol in the digital age, but not only because they're, by and large, failed broadcasters, up there in age and/or out of touch with technology and such.
There's nothing wrong with being a traditional broadcaster. Plenty of excellent and innovative ones still exist (e.g., Hubbard Broadcasting). There's nothing wrong with being old. Age ain't nothing but a number. Some of the greatest minds in music are, technically, old.
BMI might need to change its name. Broadcast Music is outdated. Even if BMI loaded its board with the most successful broadcast professionals of the modern day, there would be a problem. These people have interests not necessarily in line with the artists BMI represents. In theory -- and for good reason -- they want lower rates for radio, cable and such. That goes a long way towards explaining BMI's negative stance toward Pandora
But, even setting that aside, ASCAP, the other major group representing creators, keeps two separate boards -- a "writer board" and a "publisher board" -- stacked entirely with actual writers and publishers. I linked to the list ASCAP provides, complete with (unlike BMI) links to rich (and impressive) biographies of each person.